Day 2: Ford Case Back in Court
Restaurant owner George Foulidis got to tell his side of the story on Day 2 of proceedings in his $6 million dollar libel suit against Rob Ford, and delivered what was, at times, emotional testimony.
Wearing a black suit, blue shirt, and patterned tie, Foulidis told the court in tears, about how his 10 year-old daughter asked if he'd done anything wrong following an article in the Toronto Sun carrying comments from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
In the story, published in 2010 during the mayoral election campaign, a paraphrased statement attributed to Ford suggested he believed a sole-sourced deal involving the city and the restaurant owner's company for exclusive rights to sell food and drink in the eastern beaches appeared corrupt.
Ford denies making that statement. A recording of the conversation with the Sun editorial board was discovered during the course of the case.
Foulidis told the court he felt humiliated and felt like a criminal after the article was published and that it had a significant impact on his life. He says negative attention followed him around and it was difficult for him to run a business when people thought he got a corrupt deal.
During his testimony he said that he had faced scrutiny before, but Ford was the first to announce the suggestion of corruption.
Foulidis asked the court to denounce the allegations against him and clear his name.
Ford's lawyer Gavin Tighe began his cross-examination of Foulidis by getting the restaurant owner to admit that Ford had never used his name and the word bribe together, part of Tighe's contention that no defamation occurred because Ford was not specifically referring to Foulidis.
Tighe continued to suggest that Ford was not addressing Foulidis directly in his criticism of the deal, pointing to a section of the Toronto Sun article in question where Ford states that he can’t accuse anyone or pinpoint anything.
Foulidis didn’t buy the argument telling Tighe and court earlier in the day that he believed Ford was referring to him directly.
Ford’s camp has suggested that the lawsuit was politically motivated and on Day 1 of proceedings, the mayor’s lawyer suggested the suit was launched to silence debate on the issue.
Tighe pointed out other instances where the deal was criticized including by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who on at least three occasions (including on Newstalk 1010) used the phrase “stinks to high heaven” during discussion on the issue. Ford also used the phrase in the Toronto Sun article. Foulidis did not sue Minnan-Wong although in court Wednesday the restaurant owner admitted the phrase could be potentially libelous.
Ford's lawyer tried to suggest that Foulidis may not have had the greatest reputation by bringing up a case, upheld by an appeal court, that found the restaurant owner, along with members of his family had participated in a fraudulent transaction.
Rob Ford was not in court Wednesday afternoon because of an unspecified conflict. His high school football team has a playoff game Thursday afternoon. Ford will not be in court during the afternoon on Thursday and no official reason has been given for his absence.
He is expected to testify on Friday with closing arguments expected Monday.